Pope Francis says his plan to meet with a group of sex abuse victims is part of an effort to move forward with “zero tolerance” in confronting and preventing clergy abuse. But the head of a U.S. victims’ group has dismissed the upcoming session as a meaningless gesture.

The meeting with a half-dozen victims, announced Monday, is being organized by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston.

“On this issue we must go forward, forward. Zero tolerance,” Francis said, calling abuse of children an “ugly” crime that betrays God. He said the meeting and a Mass at the Vatican hotel where he lives would take place early next month.

David Clohessy, executive director of the main U.S. victims’ group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Pope Francis has shown himself to be capable of making real change in other areas such as church governance and finance but hasn’t done so in dealing with sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

“The simple truth is this is another gesture, another public relations coup, another nice bit of symbolism that will leave no child better off and bring no real reform to a continuing, scandal-ridden church hierarchy,” he said.

Clohessy said the meeting “is just utterly, utterly meaningless.”

But a lawyer who represents clergy abuse victims said he hoped the meeting would be “substantive and meaningful” rather than for cosmetic purposes.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian said “meeting directly with victims is the most powerful tool that the pope can use in understanding the ugliness and horror of clergy sexual abuse and why it must be stopped or prevented.” He added that there should be more than one such meeting.